When Google's forthcoming Chrome OS is released later this year, it will offer a new model of operating system that fully integrates a cloud computing model.

Since its release in 2008, Google's Chrome web browser has become a serious competitor to Microsoft's Internet Explorer and Mozilla's Firefox. The new netbook-oriented Chrome OS is expected to be more like a web browser than other operating systems.

The new operating system is built on a cloud computing model that reduces the importance of local hardware by storing data and applications on remote servers. Chrome OS will not run applications directly, but rather will mediate between a computer's user interface and cloud-based applications such as Google Docs, Gmail and Picasa.

Google has indicated that Chrome OS is will be released in late 2010. Netbook devices carrying the new operating system are expected to ship some time in 2011.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt recently announced the key differences between its two operating systems, Android and Chrome OS. According to Schmidt, Android is geared primarily toward portable touchscreen devices, while Chrome OS is intended mostly for devices with traditional keyboards.